While banks and art galleries are the target of choice for most heist movies and TV shows, the reality is that government agencies are as vulnerable to thefts as your local museum is. Maybe more so, considering it’s much easier to spend the cash a thief could steal from an evidence locker than sell a Monet or Gauguin. And while surveillance cameras are an important tool in any forensic police work, you might be surprised at how much an access control system can help to solve an on-site theft.

Ideally, you’re preventing the crime.

The easiest crime to solve is the one that doesn’t happen – so it’s essential to set up access control that starts with this goal in mind.  Many tech companies will come in and install the keycard entry system and show you how to program the cards, but that’s the extent of their services.  They won’t complete an assessment or give you suggestions about levels of security or workflows to protect your most valuable assets. While keycards are beneficial in that they can be programmed for custom access or be turned off in an instant, the downside is that whoever holds the keycard gets the access – regardless of whether or not that access is authorized. So in order to protect valuable data, evidence, or even chain of command, adding layers of security such as fingerprint or iris scans can prevent you from having to solve a crime in the first place.

Alternatively, you could also stop one mid-act.

In fact, one of the basic functions of access control is to receive real-time alerts that notify you of any out of the ordinary activity in the building. This could be through a number of events, including:

  • A door that has been held or propped open
  • Forced entry into a door, including the use of “anonymous” brass keys rather than a key card
  • Access denied for a keycard

You can even set up specific alerts based on any number of circumstances. How much better is it if you (and/or law enforcement) is there to meet the individuals trying to break in instead of just watching it happen on security footage later?

Your plan of attack after a crime. 

Let’s say that you do have a criminal incident, and you can’t tell from the alerts who is responsible. Maybe supplies or equipment are going missing. How do you figure out who the guilty party is? One of the best tools you can use is your access control logs. These records are an invaluable tool for doing some serious digital detective work and can ultimately help you find the guilty party or parties. A basic setup can, at minimum, show you who entered the area where items went missing or were tampered with. Getting a little bit more sophisticated, you can also figure out the amount of time that a person was in a room and can tell if someone is opening doors at night to let someone in or if they are leaving the premises when they shouldn’t be (maybe to stash something in their car).

Layer your technology for ultimate results.

We’ve already determined that smart surveillance cameras are amazing. And we also know that access control is a very helpful tool for solving crimes. The ultimate solution is to combine video surveillance and access control for truly comprehensive capabilities. For example, you can review the access control log to see exactly when someone left the room with the missing items, then pull up video to watch them carry the stolen items out of the area. Perhaps you can see that a tall man is using a key card that should belong to a petite woman. It might even be as crazy as someone with the correct credentials holding the door for someone who doesn’t belong in the building at all. The combined technologies paint a better picture of what actually happened and can provide you and law enforcement more info that could potentially help solve the crime.

The secret lies not in the what but in the who.

Ultimately, most technology companies won’t pursue these conversations with you and your team. You ask for access control and that’s what you get – without further conversations about your needs, comprehensive assessments, or suggestions for security configurations. And forget about follow up support and information in the event that you do have criminal activity and need help using the technology to get answers. So while the technology is important, it’s ultimately the strategy and support that enables you to achieve your public safety and security goals.

About the Author

Team ICU

ICU Technologies is a GSA Schedule 84, and CMAS Contract Vendor for Local, State, and Federal Governments Public Safety and Security Solutions.

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